Murray Rothbard once stunned me by saying that he thought the greatest economist in history was Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. The reason he gave, to the best of my recollection, was: “Böhm-Bawerk created a mighty system of economic theory and then successfully defended it against all comers.” Noticing that I was startled, he asked who I thought was the greatest economist. I replied, “Ludwig von Mises,” Rothbard’s revered mentor, whom I thought would have been his choice. Rothbard acknowledged that an excellent case could also be made for Mises.
It was only many years later that I came to understand why Rothbard gave Böhm-Bawerk an edge over Mises. Böhm-Bawerk’s magnum opus, The Positive Theory of Capital, published in 1889, almost immediately began to elicit comments and critiques from the greatest economists of his age throughout Europe and the United States. The stream of commentary on his work continued unabated for twenty-five years until his death in 1914. During this controversy, Böhm-Bawerk defended and further developed his theoretical system with acute insight and superb dialectical and expositional skills that far outclassed those of all but a few of his critics. In contrast, Mises was never able to engage the greatest economic minds of his age. His brilliant magnum opus, Human Action, published in 1949, barely caused a ripple of acknowledgement in the increasingly positivistic postwar economics profession, which was rushing headlong into macroeconomics, econometrics, and mathematical economics.Was Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk the GOAT? by Joseph T. Salerno
Böhm-Bawerk was not only a great economic theorist: he was a great intellectual street-fighter too.
He got results in the real world, while the great thinker (but poor fighter) Mises didn’t.
“Böhm-Bawerk created a mighty system of economic theory and then successfully defended it against all comers.”
Rushdoony (and, somewhat less mighty but even more pugnacious!) North knew how to think, and how to fight.
We need more people who not only think and fight, but also put the Law into motion, in our families, churches and communities. That’s why I like the house church model (now boosted by the internet – yes, even in pagan Britain!) and synagogue model of expanding the Church in to the cities – no matter how hostile.
(Also useful: What will the post-coronavirus church look like?)